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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Good Help is Hard To Find.

Almost five years ago now we really struck it rich with the best babysitter on the planet. Rachel was our number 1 girl.

Rachel graduated from college, did some mission work and eventually found a job and a fiance'. She still helps us out here and there but her life is changing and we've been forced to find others to help us out.

For close to a year now we have been on the hunt and seriously, the stories.

We've found great neighborhood gals and even an older sister of M's friend that are great but really for all four kids we have to have someone post high school.

I placed an ad in a few different places this past spring and summer and the emails and resumes I received was astounding.

That's when I realized, I'm picky and I have high standards. I babysat and nannied for years and never ever realized how good I was.

We hired a girl last spring to help us out one morning a week and various evenings/weekends. She worked out for a couple months but we found out she was being dishonest about silly things. {Like telling us they would go to the park when they didn't. Telling us she made XYZ for lunch and really they had ABC.} We decided if she was lying to us about stuff like that how could we trust that she was telling us the truth on big stuff.

She also really liked just having the kids watch tv. Which is ok for a half an hour here and there but not when you come home and find out they've watched four hours of Dora the Explorer. {No exaggeration.}

We parted ways silently. And then began the search again.

Over the summer, I solidified what we really wanted and needed in a babysitter.

I wanted someone who will engage with my kids. Walk to the park, play a game, make things. Care for them and enforce what we ask to be enforced.

After returning home too many times with hours of clean up in front of me, I decided I needed to put together some expectations before I hire anyone else. {No joke. Word to the wise, inform your sitters to not put sunscreen on your children inside. Also, maybe at least put the dishes from whatever meal they fed the kids in the sink or even better, the dishwasher.}

This fall we placed an ad at a college about 30 minutes away. The emails flooded in.

Highlights included:

College seniors who couldn't spell.
A college junior who "has never babysat before but has always wanted to".
Another applicant who has no current references but once I meet her I'll know she's good.
Being stood up for interviews. Twice.
Interviewing one applicant, liking her enough to check her references, still liking her enough to ask her to babysit and then find out that she's "too busy."

The process was funny, yet slightly concerning.

Finally I found an applicant I liked. She was the perfect interviewer. Her resume was impeccable and the two pages of nanny references were astounding.

She babysat for us 3 or 4 times and everything seemed great so far. The kids had good things to say. The house was always picked up. She seemed to enjoy it. Things were going well.

Then a few weeks back on a Sunday night we came home to find our house trashed. Dishes throughout the kitchen, clothes and toys strewn about the house and her laying on the couch eating.

We chalked it up to a bad night and had her back the following Sunday.

Not only was the house in much worse condition {seriously there were items of children's clothing in every room of our house! the sink overflowing with dishes, food and paper all over the floor, just to name a few} but she again was laying on the couch eating.

According to T & M {and our garbage, because yes I had to check after seeing the mess and hearing their report} in addition to dinner with our kids, she alone ate:

6 Lemon Ice cups
1 pizza
2 bags of popcorn
4 cans of soda
3 fruit leathers
2 granola bars
unknown amount of tortilla chips

There could be more we don't even know about.

When we got home and asked how things had gone, she said, "Great, E just fell asleep on the floor a couple hours ago."


Also, she cancelled a show I had recording {The Good Wife} to record a show she wanted to watch {Once Upon a Time.}

I wasn't happy.

The next morning, the only one who had anything good to say was T. T, the almost 13 year old. T, the one who technically doesn't need a babysitter.

What did T like about her? That she hung out on the computer looking at stuff on ebay with him.


M, H & E all were kind of done with this sitter. I was too.

J ran into a bind the other day while I was out of town and needed help. Knowing she's messy, likes to eat and not too into engaging with the kids, I wasn't thrilled but knew he didn't have much of a choice.

Our bigs were at their moms so it was just our littles and they were not happy.

H especially was unhappy which is odd because he pretty much likes everyone.

She showed up and things didn't go too well. There was pretty much a showdown between her and our littles in the entryway. Needless to say, J ended up bringing the kids with him and writing her a check for her drive time.

The nail has been pounded into that coffin. We're officially moving on.

But seriously, where do we go from here?


Blogger Gina said...

Wow!! That is horrible! I never was like that when I babysat and I babysat for years!! I hope you find someone who works out for you guys!

November 9, 2011 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger LutherLiz said...

have you checked church - we have kids hired (and trained) for our nursery - high school and college - and ours have all been excellent.

November 9, 2011 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

That's frustrating. I'm surprised how much trouble you're having finding a good babysitter, considering all the families that live in your area. You'd think there would be a million fantastic babysitters nearby!

November 9, 2011 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

Zoinks. I agree -- good babysitting help is hard to find.

My favorite story from the trenches was this summer. Our girls (4&5) had attended a preschool put on by our high school's child development class, which gave us a roster of potential sitters. We chose one who had independently approached us to offer to watch the girls. We tried her out for an afternoon (2pm - 5pm) while we went to an appointment. Came home to find her ASLEEP on the family room floor, with our children in the unfenced backyard, unsupervised. The girls filled us in later that they had come inside earlier to find her napping, she'd woken up, & then went BACK to sleep. ARGH.

Good luck on your continued search...

November 9, 2011 at 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Vicki said...

Wow!! I have been in Child Care for over 30 years and never heard such things! Hope you have better luck this time...

November 9, 2011 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Brandi said...

Oh No! I have a great history of babysitters..we have a few gals from college, high school, and middle school that we love and are all awesome. Let me know if you want to me to pass on any of them to you..

November 9, 2011 at 8:35 PM  
Anonymous dadio's said...

Figure this out and u have a million dollar ides!
Luv ya all!

November 10, 2011 at 6:18 AM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Hmmm...There is the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, why not write The Very Hungry Babysitter?!

November 10, 2011 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Mountain Jessie said...

Okay, I had to chime in here because I haven't been able to shake this post for a few days. What sticks with me is that I WAS this girl. When I was 9 (9!!), my next door neighbor hired me to watch her kids for a few hours here and there. They always had the best food at their house and even got ice cream delivered by that Schwan's delivery man. I'm not kidding, I ate my heart out anytime I was there. Multiple ice cream bars, chips, pop- anything I could find that we MY mom didn't keep around the house. I had some idea that I shouldn't eat so much but they never said anything about it so I kept on munching. I will never forget the day I overheard this mom talking to my mom about how much I had been eating when I was over. I was mortified, completely embarrassed! It had never occurred to me that what I was doing was inappropriate and portion control was never something we talked about in my house (it was an every-man-for-himself situation). Similarly, I watched a lot of tv and movies with the kids because again, it was a treat for me (no cable at home) and I didn't have any sort of childcare tool box built up at such a young age. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to learn from these mistakes- this mom didn't give up on me and continued to teach me a million things about kids. If wasn't until after 15+ years as a mother's helper, camp counselor, babysitter etc that I turned into a great nanny.

I would never argue that you should rehire this girl. It sounds like it wasn't a good fit in a lot of ways. BUT, I think it's important to recognize that young babysitters often don't have any idea of what's appropriate or expected unless it's spelled out for Red cross babysitting classes really only teach you how to change a diaper and call 911. Who teaches kids how to talk with parents about pay, discipline a child or what constitutes creative play, especially if these things were never modeled in their own homes. I don't work in childcare anymore but will always be thankful that this mom (and many others after)took the time to teach me along the way.

As a parent/employer, it's easy to forget that these are opportunities to help mold great, reliable, honest, hard-working kids, even if they're not your own.

November 15, 2011 at 5:08 PM  

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